Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed two more pieces of major legislation on Monday, this time targeting Chinese Communist party influence in the United States.
HB 1523 criminalizes ‘trafficking in trade secrets’, while HB 7017 aims to prevent foreign influence in America’s higher education system. The latter implements strict vetting of foreign researchers to avoid espionage and requires state agencies to disclose certain donations from ‘countries of concern’, which consist of China, Cuba, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela.
‘There is no single entity that exercises a more pervasive, nefarious influence across a wide range of American industries and institutions than the Communist party of China,’ DeSantis said during a signing event in Miami, Florida.
DeSantis has been on a signing spree over the past couple of months, further bolstering his credentials as a tough conservative and possible 2024 presidential candidate and following on from his much-hailed handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Florida.
On June 1, he signed a bill banning biological men from competing in women’s sports and seemingly took a swipe at fellow Republicans who punted on the issue. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem vetoed a similar bill, claiming that she would immediately lose a legal battle against the NCAA and expressing concern about the economic impact of losing NCAA sporting events in South Dakota.
‘If the price of having a tournament is I have to deny equal opportunity to hundreds of thousands of young girl and women athletes throughout Florida, I am much more willing to stand with the girls, and to hell with these events,’ DeSantis told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson.
At the end of May, DeSantis signed a bill imposing hefty fines on social media companies that ban political candidates in Florida from using their platforms. It also gave Floridians the right to sue big tech companies over deplatforming. Before that, he signed an election law strengthening voter ID requirements, banning ballot harvesting, and prohibiting the mass mailing of ballots.
Most recently, DeSantis scored a victory against Royal Caribbean over its requirement that all passengers be vaccinated. The cruise line reversed its policy, instead saying that it would no longer require proof of vaccination before passengers board its ships, presumably in response to another DeSantis-signed bill that banned businesses and government entities from using vaccine passports.